The Bishop of London asked a question about sources of funding for care on 24th November 2022, during a debate on adult social care:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, the Archbishops’ commission on social care, which will be publishing its report next year, is also concerned about the inequitable funding when funding is raised through council tax. Can the Minister indicate how central money will reduce this inequality to accessing care and whether the Government are doing any evaluation of that?
The Lord Bishop of London asked a question about government support for renters at risk of homelessness during a debate on the Renters Reform Bill on 22nd November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, rents in London are up to double the level of rents elsewhere in the UK. Crisis has warned that the number of people sleeping rough in London has risen by a quarter in just one year, and more than half of those spotted on the streets are sleeping rough for the first time. What are the Government doing to prevent those who are struggling to pay their increasing rents from falling into homelessness?
The Bishop of London asked a question about establishing a living wage for social care workers on 21st November 2022:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, Enabled Living in Newham has become the first London-based social care provider to pay its workers the real living wage—the first such employer to do so. We have heard that social care workers are among the lowest paid, with one in five residential care workers living in poverty before the cost of living crisis, according to the Health Foundation. What assessment have the Government made of the real living wage and the impact that it could have on retaining valuable social care workers?
The Bishop of London asked a question about support for the bereaved on 9th December 2022, following a report by the UK Commission on Bereavement:
The Lord Bishop of London: To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they plan to take in response to the report by the UK Commission on Bereavement, Bereavement is Everyone’s Business, published on 6 October, which found that over 40% of respondents who wanted formal bereavement support did not get any.
The Bishop of London tabled a question for short debate on 3rd November 2022, concerning ambulance handovers in light of an upcoming strike:
The Lord Bishop of London: To ask His Majesty’s Government what progress they are making on ensuring swift ambulance handovers, as set out in Our Plan for Patients, published on 22 September, given the decision of ambulance workers across 11 trusts to ballot for strike action.
My Lords, I start by saying how grateful I am to your Lordships’ House for setting time aside for what I think is an important and timely debate. I am also grateful for the briefing from the House of Lords Library.
Last week, the GMB union announced that it was balloting ambulance workers over strike action across 11 trusts in what would be the biggest ambulance workers’ strike for 30 years. I think it would be wise to ask ourselves what has happened across the whole system to bring us to this point. Ambulance handover delays are an increasing issue across the trusts in England. The NHS contract for this year sets out that 90% of handovers should take place within 30 minutes and 65% within 15. However, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives notes 40,000 cases of patients waiting longer than an hour for handover—this was recorded this year and is the third-highest volume on record.
Long handover delays increase the risk of harm to patients while they are in ambulances. The NHS Confederation says that eight out of 10 patients who were delayed beyond 60 minutes were assessed as having had an experience that had potentially harmed them, and nearly one in 10 experienced severe harm as a result. The number of ambulances waiting to transfer their patients also impacts on the availability of ambulances, and the response times therefore increase. This in turn risks increasing further harm to those who are waiting for an ambulance in the community. Florence Nightingale famously once said that hospitals should do no harm. It is a sentiment that I believe is appropriate to the wider healthcare system. The healthcare system should do no harm.
The Bishop of London asked a question about a living wage for care providers on 3rd November 2022, during a debate on “fire and rehire” practices used by employers:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, having access to secure work is key to health, not just of individuals but the community. It means sufficient wages and reliable hours. London has the highest share of care workers paid below the real living wage of any English region. What are the Government doing to encourage care providers to be living wage employers to ensure that the workers who look after us have access to secure work?
On 17th October 2022, the House of Lords debated a bill to repeal the Health and Social Care Levy. The Bishop of London spoke about the importance of sustainable funding for the health and social care systems:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I have some technical questions about the implications of repealing this levy, but they prompt more significant questions about the sustainability of health and social care funding, as other noble Lords have already suggested. The sustainability of health and social care is hugely important to me, not just as a former Government’s Chief Nursing Officer, but as a bishop. This is about funding a service well with a long-term view, so that those who work hard to care for us have the resources to do the job. This is about the fact that every person is of great value in God’s sight and should be treated with dignity and equity. This is about a thriving economy because, without a healthy population, we will not have an economy that grows.
When the levy was introduced, the then Financial Secretary wrote to the Treasury Select Committee to justify it, saying that
“it would not be possible to fund this from existing tax revenues, nor would it be responsible to fund it through borrowing.”
This uncertainty about the direction does not inspire confidence that the Government have a sustainable plan to fund health and social care. If repealing this levy will not affect health and social care funding, can the Minister guarantee that a detailed breakdown of how this tax cut will be funded will be set out clearly?
The Bishop of London asked about the government’s plans to publish a health disparities white paper on 17th October 2022, during a debate on childhood obesity:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, the National Food Strategy to tackle obesity, the new tobacco control plan and the health disparities White Paper were key to the Government’s aim to level-up health. The most recent NHS Providers report found that 95% of trust leaders said that the cost of living had either significantly or severely worsened health inequalities in the local area. Given the worsening situation, can the Minister confirm when the health disparities White Paper will be published? If not, can he point to what else the Government are doing to reduce inequalities in health?
On 10th September 2022 the House of Lords met to hear tributes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose death had been announced. The Bishop of London paid tribute:
The Lord Bishop of London: My Lords, I share with this House, our country and many across the world the profound sadness at the death of the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. In June this year, we gathered at St Paul’s Cathedral for the national service to celebrate her Platinum Jubilee. In that service, words were read from the letter to the Philippians: